Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chapter 3.12- It's Not You

Don't be angry - don't be sad
Don't sit crying over good times you've had
There's a girl right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do

Well there's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love honey
Love the one you're with

-Clifton George Bailey, Stephen Stills

            It had been the longest twenty minutes of her life.
            At first she’d tried to walk off, but he’d arrested her wrist before she’d made it one step. Despite showing her he didn’t want her to leave, he’d not looked at her, not spoken a word. The only movement she’d caught was his sliding down the couch, lying flat.
            Finally, she’d slipped in beside him, holding him, waiting for… something. Anything.

            Her turning down his proposal shouldn’t have been such a surprise. They’d never talked about anything more than what they currently had. She’d never dropped a hint about wanting to get married, much less get engaged. He knew her desire to go it alone. And didn’t he say how this had been his dream? To fight crime undercover? Making the world a better place?
            It had to be that Dove’s birthday made him feel the distance more keenly than usual. He was desperate and had said it in haste. He didn’t mean it.
            “It’ll be okay. I still love you.”

            There was the first movement he’d made in half an hour. With his eyes now shut tight, he turned his head away from her by about a millimeter. Taking it as a sign her words had found a mark, she continued.
            “In no time at all we’ll both have forgotten about this. No one else knows, so there’s no embarrassing explanation to give anyone.”
            Roger’s chest heaved, a choking hiccup accompanying it.
            “Look,” maybe she needed to change tack? She hadn’t meant to upset him further. “Look, we both know I’m not the marrying type. I don’t want to-”

            Shaking slightly now, Roger squeezed his eyes even tighter for a brief moment. Afraid he might be crying, Mariah began to be concerned. ‘I don’t want to’ might have been the wrong place to stop there.
            “I don’t want to tie anyone down. Much less *be* tied down. It’s always been me and someone else. I need some time to-”
            The breath escaping Roger’s lips began to be ragged. How come he wasn’t coming out of it?
            “Time, I need time to-to-to prove to… to prove to me, myself, that I’m an adult-”

            This time, there was no denying it was a sob. His entire body shook from it.
            “Hey now!” Mariah cooed. “Hey, look at me. C’mon.”
            Instead, Roger tightened his grip on himself, pursing his lips, making his neck steel, refusing to budge.
            “Alright, fine. You don’t have to look at me, but I know you can hear me. So hear this. I love you. I really do. I love you so much more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone. It’s not you. It’s me! I’m nuts! Haha-”

            Roger stopped holding it back, sobs deep and hoarse escaping freely. Even his head weighed more on her arm than it had moments before.
            Despite her nerves, it was only now that Mariah was truly frightened. She’d never seen a man cry before; never been a witness to the breakdown of what she’d always considered towering strength. Every moan, every breath he struggled to gain, each trembling tear cut her terribly. Beneath her hand, his heart beat so fast she worried it might fly away.
            When his dad had died, his tears had been silent. This level of grief alarmed and confused her. Worst of all, for the first time ever she felt as though she were seeing him truly bare.

            It seemed his tears had lasted forever but, at last, they were slowing.
            “Roger, sweetheart?”
            As his cries had slackened she could almost make out syllables hidden in his groaning. But she’d yet been able to put a meaning, or flesh out words from them.
            “Roger, I do love you. No matter what I said earlier, I love you. Just… don’t be angry. Don’t be sad. We’ll survive. Together. I just need more time.”

            Heaving a deep, final, sigh, Roger pushed himself up, wiping his face with an arm as he went.
            “You just need more time. Don’t be angry,” he repeated. “Don’t be sad.”
            Reaching over to rub his back, Mariah waited. Just what she waited for, she didn’t know. This situation was so new to her, yet it had to be just as new to Roger.
            “The eagle flies with the dove,” Roger whispered. Still, Mariah waited, more confused than ever.
            “The Eagle flies with the Dove,” Roger repeated, stronger this time. Eyes wider than ever, Mariah’s hand stopped on his shoulder. Had she broken him the way her mother had been broken?

            Brushing her hand from his shoulder he stood.
            Had her single word rejection really done this? Or was this too much emotional shock after his father’s passing? Maybe he’d needed to grieve more over his dad first, before proposing. But how was she supposed to know he would do that?

            Slowly raising herself to sitting, Mariah jumped as Roger abruptly turned and began quickly pacing, muttering to himself as he went.
            “It’s not just that I don’t pay it. After everything, it would have made more sense to punish him in that way. There’s also been no secrecy within the household about who isn’t.”
            Dimly, she could see what he might be referencing and her fear intensified.
            “And time? Isn’t 5 years and three kids long enough?”

            On one of his turns between the loveseat and the wall he caught Mariah watching him intently and paused.
            “You’ve given yourself away, my dear,” a sad smile adorning his words as he resumed pacing. “Don’t be angry? Don’t be sad? And at the end of the chorus? When you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
            Surely he wasn’t suggesting-
            “I should have seen it so long ago. PlumbBob! How blind I’ve been! The lengths you’ve gone to to protect the one you love should have been the biggest red flag ever. Watcher. Stupid, desperate me.”

            “You’ve had every right, and all the time in the world, to make him pay as a woman scorned would want to do. But instead you covered for him. You’ve buried your feelings so deep, I wonder if you realize they’re still there.
            “As for myself? You were lonely and I was there. It wasn’t exactly the biggest jump in the world to go from friends to more for you was it? It’s precisely what I wanted; why would I complain? Why would I stand in your way? I thought I knew you better than anyone else in the world. You kept your secret. And I? Fell for it. But no more. No more, Mariah.”

            “You love me only because I’m the one you’re with. Your love, your whole shining pure bright as heaven love, isn’t for me. It never has been mine, and neither, truly, have you. There isn’t enough time left in this world to make that happen.”
            Shrinking into the cushions, Mariah wished she could cry as he had done earlier. But the empty pit inside her offered no relief.
            “I love you,” she said, small and weak. But he didn’t respond and she knew those words were no longer enough.

            The silence between them stretched fragile and unbroken until she couldn’t stand it and glanced up at him. It was no relief to find him looking calm and serene as a summer’s day. Everything he’d said until now had been quiet and gently said. If only he’d been mad, stormed, ranted and raged at her as she deserved, perhaps she’d have been able to find the words to defend herself in some way. As it was, what more could she say?
            “Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too.” Roger answered her unspoken words. “After all, we’ve grown up together. And you-” Roger chuckled, not unkindly, “You have the ability to ‘read minds.’ Of course we’re thinking the same thing. And despite it all, I don’t know who you are.”

            Still, he steadily gazed at her. The corners of his mouth slowly sinking the longer he watched her. His eyes kept a soft, pitying look giving her hope that maybe, if she could ever find the right words, he might be persuaded to be reasonable.
            How wrong she was. In a moment, he returned her devastating whisper with a whisper of his own.
            “Goodbye, Mariah.”

            And with those words he turned

And he walked



            Damn Andre.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

So which of his surmises are true and which are not and what might be half way true I’ll let you guess.
To spell it out for those who might not remember it all, or who might have missed his meaning: Roger is accusing Mariah of still carrying a torch for Andre. He was using the song lyrics to piece together his puzzle there. As in: Mariah can’t be with the one she loves (Andre) so she’s loving the one she’s with (Roger.) And Roger isn’t going to be satisfied with second place.
He was always too good for her.
After that, replies to comments will take longer than usual as were taking our first ever real vacation as a family this weekend. Wahoo!